Child Development and Parenting

Conversations About Autism

Conversations About Autism is a series of 60-minute live-streamed sessions created for providers and caregivers of children with autism who wish to better understand the autism spectrum. In these sessions, experts and advocates from our region share their knowledge and perspectives on autism as well as helpful tips for supporting a child, adolescent or young adult with autism.

These sessions take place on the third Thursday of the month from 7 to 8 p.m. Pacific time and the recordings are posted on our YouTube channel for future viewing for those interested in the series.

2023 Seminar Series

January 19: Keeping Autistics Safe

February 16: Support for Fathers of Autistics

March 16: Tips for Toileting

April 20: Talking to Your Kids About Their Diagnosis of Autism

May 18: Supporting Siblings Both On and Off the Spectrum

July 20: Framing Your Definitions of Success

August 17: Thriving on the Autism and Gender Spectrums (Postponed until 2024)

We are postponing this session until 2024. In the meantime, here are some related resources to explore:

  1. Co-occurring Autism Spectrum Disorder and Gender Dysphoria in Adolescents (American Academy of Pediatrics)
  2. Gender Diversity and Autism: Exploring Identity, Healthcare and Advocacy (Video. 1:25:29)
  3. Information & Reading Materials on Relationships & Sexuality & Gender (The Arc of King County)
  4. Supporting Transgender Autistic Youth and Adults: A guide for professionals and families (Book by Finn Gratton)

September 21: School Speech Therapy

October 19: Managing Sleep Challenges

November 16: Depression and Suicide Awareness

Watch Online

You can live-stream classes on YouTube on Seattle Children’s YouTube page or on Facebook Live on Seattle Children’s Facebook page. After you have watched the class, please provide feedback by taking our class survey (this should take just a few minutes to complete). You can also email your feedback directly to us at

If you are with a school, community organization or group who would like to host a community event and would like to discuss other teleconferencing options, please email us.


Please call Seattle Children’s Autism Center at 206-987-8080 with questions, or email us.

View Past Lectures

Live-streamed sessions are recorded and can be viewed following the livestream. View past lectures from 2017–2021 below or view all past Conversations About Autism sessions on the Conversations About Autism Series YouTube Playlist.

2021 Series

The State of Autism in 2021 – Advocating for Supports and Services in Washington State
January 21, 2021
Panelists: Stacy Dym, The Arc of Washington State; Jeremy Norden-Paul, the Washington State Developmental Disabilities Council (DDC); Adana Protonentis, senior consultant, Kindred Leaders, mom of autistic son, member of DDC; Ramona Hattendorf, advocacy director, The Arc of King County

A call to action! 2020 was a tough year: Kids lost access to vital therapies; online learning mostly left behind students with disabilities; and the state floated cuts to long-term supports that would affect job coaching, residential support, respite and more for youths and adults with disabilities and their families. Individuals with autism and intellectual and developmental disabilities were left isolated, frustrated, and cut off from meaningful life activities. So what’s ahead for 2021 and the state legislature? You can make a difference! How to get involved to influence what happens next.

A Voice for Severe Autism
February 18, 2021

  • Jill Escher, president, National Council on Severe Autism
  • Amy Lutz, vice president, National Council on Severe Autism

Many millions of people have traits associated with autism. This presentation will focus on important issues and concerns impacting the growing population of children and adults affected by severe forms of autism or related disorders. This population includes those who, by virtue of any combination of cognitive and functional impairments, require continuous or near-continuous, lifelong services, supports and supervision. Individuals in this category are often nonverbal or have limited use of language, have intellectual impairment, and, in a subset, exhibit challenging behaviors that interfere with safety and well-being.

ABA – What Parents Need To Know
March 18, 2021

  • Katherine Bateman, PhD, BCBA-D, LBA is a Research Scientist and Project Director in the Area of Special Education at the University of Washington
  • Ilene Schwartz, PhD, BCBA-D is a professor of Special Education at the University of Washington and the Director of the Haring Center for Inclusive Education at UW
  • Mendy Minjarez, PhD, is Executive Director, Seattle Children’s Autism Center, Assistant Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences University of Washington, Director, Applied Behavior Analysis Early Intervention Program, Seattle Children’s Autism Center
  • Nancy Rosenberg, PhD, BCBA-D is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Special Education department at the University of Washington and the Director of the UW Applied Behavior Analysis program

Intervention using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has long been considered an effective and gold standard treatment for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. However, ABA is frequently misunderstood. Perceptions of ABA have recently been a "hot button" issue, due to reports that this intervention can lead to trauma. In addition, ABA advocates and members of the neurodiversity movement have sometimes been at odds, the former advocating for intensive treatment and the latter arguing that autism must be accepted as a form of diversity. This mixed information can be confusing for parents who are striving to choose the best therapeutic interventions for their child with ASD. This presentation will explore these perceptions of ABA and provide clarification of the scientific evidence for various claims, with the goal of helping parents navigate the confusion and controversy and confidently identify the best therapeutic intervention for their child and family.

Supporting the Autism Community in Central and Eastern Washington
April 15, 2021

  • Jill Bross, MD, FAAP Parkview Medical Group, Grant County
  • Melissa Brooks, RN, Parent to Parent Coordinator, the Arc of Tri-Cities
  • Tracie Hoppis, Washington State Parent to Parent Network Coordinator, Supervisor for Yakima County Children with Special Health Care Needs Program and Yakima County Parent to Parent, Parent - Children’s Village, Yakima
  • Maria Pulido, Community Health Worker, Parent to Parent and Children with Special Health Care Needs Program- Children’s Village, Yakima
  • Lori Garcia, MSW, Family Resources Coordinator and Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN) Program Coordinator, Children’s Village, Yakima
  • Sharon Loudon, Autism Consultant, Educational Service District (ESD) 105, Yakima Dana Stevens, ABD, BCBA, LBA, Director, Training and Education and Chief Clinical Advisor Northwest Autism Center, Spokane
  • John Lemus, UW LEND Program, Vice President – Spokane Chapter of People First of WA

This virtual panel presentation will provide information about the unique issues and support available for the autism community in central and eastern Washington. Topics that will be discussed include getting an evaluation and diagnosis, supports for families following a diagnosis, advocacy and communication with the public schools, available therapies including Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), autistic advocate and parent perspectives, and information related to resources.

Selective Eating in Children With Autism
May 20, 2021

  • Lauren Mozer, MPH, RD, CD
  • Lisa Holman, MS, RD, CD
  • Kim Nowak-Cooperman, MS, RD, CD

Seattle Children’s Pediatric Feeding Program Clinical Dietitians Kim Nowak Cooperman, Lisa Holman and Lauren Mozer will provide an overview of the eating issues commonly seen in children with autism, with a focus on food selectivity (picky eating). They will also discuss nutrition risks commonly seen in selective eaters, the ways in which nutrition can play a role in working with other members of your child’s care team and first steps parents or caregivers can take in supporting their child nutritionally.

Access to Care and Services in Homes, Schools and Communities
September 16, 2021
Instructor: Arzu Forough, president and CEO at Washington Autism Alliance
Read the presentation (PDF).

Maximizing education and health benefits to support individuals and their families throughout the lifespan. Presenter: Arzu Forough, President & CEO, Washington Autism Alliance. Ms. Forough brings over 25 years of experience in training and development to her position, including leadership development, government relations and non-profit management.In 2007 she founded Washington Autism Alliance and developed the “Autism IEP supplement: Best Practice Guidelines for educating students with autism”. Her IEP supplement as well as guidelines for training teachers was legally adopted by the Washington State legislature in 2008 and became the requirement for all teachers working with learners with Autism Spectrum Disorders statewide. Arzu introduced Shayan’s Law, Autism Insurance Parity to the Washington State legislature, petitioned the state Health technology Assessment of evidence based treatment of autism and ignited multiple legal actions that have clarified state and federal laws mandating insurance benefits for those with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Autism and Sleep Issues
October 21, 2021

Read the presentation. (PDF)

Children with autism can have sleep issues, which can be hard on both the child and their family. In this 200 class we will discuss the importance of sleep, sleep problems and their potential causes, and strategies to improve sleep in children with autism.

Autism and the African American Experience
November 18, 2021
Facilitator: Shayla Collins Parent, UW LEND, Arc of King County Board Member, OBCC Mindfulness and Compassion Program Facilitator
Panel Experts:

  • Hodan Mohammed, Parent and Founder of Washington Multicultural Services Link
  • Jaukesia Lawrence-Smalls, Parent, Self-Advocate, UW LEND & The Arc of King County Board Member
  • Richard Mullen, Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator, The Arc of King County Panel Discussion

An engaging community conversation with African American autistic adults, parents, advocates and experts on navigating within the I/DD community and systems. Learn about the personal journeys of the parents and self-advocate on our panel and the advice they have to share on navigating through the complexities of the intellectual and developmental disability (I/DD) community and systems. They will also provide recommendations to providers and family members on how to best support/ amplify people and families within the IDD community.

2020 Series

Recognizing and Treating Trauma-Related Symptoms in Children and Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorder
February 20, 2020
Instructor: Molly Cevasco, PhD, Seattle Children’s Autism Center
Read the presentation (PDF).

Children and adolescents with developmental disabilities have an increased likelihood of experiencing abuse or neglect. While these crimes are infrequently reported, those who do report often struggle to find a treatment team that can adequately meet their needs. This presentation reviews current research on the prevalence of various forms of abuse and neglect among individuals with ASD and I/DD, as well as important considerations for treatment and supports. This presentation will provide information for individuals and families to understand resources and signs of trauma exposure. Medical and mental health providers will learn trauma-informed strategies for working with individuals, both in primary care and behavioral health settings.

Mood and Anxiety in Autism
March 19, 2020
Instructors: Stephanie Pickering, PhD; Rachel Earl, PhD; and Soo-Jeong Kim, MD
Read the presentation (PDF).

Children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder are at greater risk of anxiety and mood issues over the course of their life. This talk will explore current evidence-based treatments for anxiety and mood, including cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Presenters will also discuss important ways these therapies may be adapted for this population.

Naturalistic Developmental Behavioral Interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorder
April 16, 2020
Instructor: Mendy Minjarez, PhD
Read the presentation (PDF).

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is an evidence-based treatment for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with several decades of scientific support. Over time, ABA has been implemented in different ways, including newer methods using naturalistic and developmentally based interventions, which have emerged as effective strategies for teaching skills to young children with ASD. This presentation will describe core principles of these Naturalistic Developmental Behavioral Interventions and will compare and contrast different treatment models that fall under this umbrella term, such as Pivotal Response Teaching (PRT) and the Early Start Denver Model (EDSM). Information on specific treatment strategies will also be provided, such that this presentation will be relevant for both those interested in learning about the science behind these models, as well as those who are interested in using them to work directly with children with ASD.

Mental Health and Autistic Adults With Intellectual Impairment
July 16, 2020

  • David O'Neal, director of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Program at Sound Mental Health
  • Melanie Streight, intensive case manager/supervisor, DDA
  • Dan Peterson, mental health resource manager, DDA

This presentation will focus on mental health conditions and steps we can take as a community of parents, caregivers and self-advocates to foster self-determination and remove barriers to mental health services. The impact of COVID-19 on mental health services will also be discussed. The presenters will share their experiences, strategies and resources. This presentation is focused on autistic adults with intellectual impairment and who are enrolled in DDA.

Mental Health and Autistic Adults Without Intellectual Impairment
August 20, 2020

Read the presentation (PDF).

This presentation will focus on mental health conditions and steps we can take as a community of self-advocates, parents, and caregivers to foster self-determination and remove barriers to mental health services. The impact of COVID-19 on mental health services will also be discussed. The presenters will share their experiences, strategies and resources. This presentation is focused on autistic adults without intellectual impairment and who are not enrolled in DDA.

How to Access and Implement ABA Services in Schools
September 17, 2020
Instructors: Arzu Forough, executive director of WAAA; and Elizabeth Hatzenbuhler, MS, BCBASeattle Children’s Autism Center
Read the presentation (PDF).

ABA has demonstrated effectiveness across a variety of individuals, behaviors and settings. Research supports that ABA is an effective scientific methodology that can be implemented within school settings in numerous capacities. This includes a continuum of services that range from general education strategies that are applicable to all learners to intensive and individualized intervention plans that help a student build skills in order to be successful in a way that is most meaningful to them. This talk will provide background information about the current state of ABA practices in our school systems as well as an overview of what these services may look like. It will also highlight the new School Behavior Analyst credential.

Crisis Supports and Autistic Individuals Without Intellectual Impairment
October 15, 2020
Facilitator: Gary Stobbe, MDSeattle Children’s Autism Center

  • Lindsey Miller, ARNP – psych ARNP at Seattle Children’s (outpatient and inpatient med provider)
  • Molly Cevasco, PhD – clinical psychologist at Seattle Children’s (specialist in autism, trauma, and crisis services)
  • Don Koenig – Vancouver Director, Catholic Community Services (expert on WISe program and mental health services in WA State)
  • Taylor Robb – autistic self advocate (member of our ECHO IDD Wraparound team, studying for his BCBA)
  • Rachel Nemhauser – Community and Family Support Manager, The Arc of King County
  • Paul Davis – Youth and Family Behavioral Health, Washington State Health Care Authority

When faced with a crisis, where do autistic individuals turn for support, treatment, services and stabilization? Many autistics who have complex mental health needs are not being served well by the current systems. This session will take a closer look at mental health services – what is available; what are the challenges, gaps and barriers; and what should be done to provide prevention and intervention services to autistics experiencing a mental health crisis. Panelists will be announced in the summer of 2020. Information will address the needs of autistics who do not meet eligibility requirements for Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA).

A Panel Discussion: Multicultural Perspectives on Autism Spectrum Disorder
November 19, 2020
Moderator: Jim Mancini, MS, CCC-SLP, Seattle Children’s Autism Center
Presenters from the following groups and individual parent ambassadors:

  • Vietnamese Family Autism Advisory Board (VFAAB) Thanh Kirkpatrick, MD, MPH, pediatrician, Hope Central Pediatrics; director, VFAAB LeVinh Tran, patient navigator, Hope Central and VFAAB
  • Somali Health Board Fartun Mohamed, program manager, Somali Health Board Amal Yasin, parent ambassador
  • The Arc of King County Sandra Urite, information and resource specialist for Spanish-speaking families, The Arc of King County
  • Adriana Benavides, parent ambassador

Most people know a person who has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), regardless of culture, ethnicity or religion. ASD is viewed differently across cultures and different cultures present with various strengths and challenges within their communities. This presentation will focus on three different cultural groups that are represented in the state of Washington: Somali, Vietnamese and Latinx communities. Presenters from community groups including the Vietnamese Family Autism Advisory Board, the Somali Health Board and the Arc of King County will provide some history of their local community in the Seattle area, identify the strengths/barriers within their communities, relate the story of how local organizations formed and have grown and present barriers their communities face when interacting with different systems, in particular during the time of COVID-19.

2019 lectures

The State of Autism in 2019 January 17, 2019 Instructor: Jim Mancini, MS, CCC-SLP

Best Practices in ASD Treatment: Applied Behavior Analysis Update February 21, 2019 Instructors: Mendy Minjarez, PhD, and Elizabeth Hatzenbuhler, MS, BCBA

The Visual Pathway in ASD: Explicit Teaching Methods to Promote Social Communication March 21, 2019 Instructor: Georgina Lynch, PhD Read the presentation (PDF).

Perspectives on Psychiatric Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder April 18, 2019 Instructor: Hower Kwon, MD Read the presentation (PDF).

 Gender Diversity and Autism: Exploring Identity, Healthcare and Advocacy May 16, 2019 Instructors: Felice Orlich, PhD, and Rachel Earl, PhD Read the presentation (PDF).

Transition to Adulthood – “My Physical Body and Mind Started Shutting Down”: Autistic Burnout and the Costs of Coping and Passing July 18, 2019 Instructor: Dora Raymaker, PhD Read the presentation (PDF). Read the paper: "Having All of Your Internal Resources Exhausted Beyond Measure and Being Left with No Clean-Up Crew": Defining Autistic Burnout

Transition to Adulthood – Abuse and Neglect of Adults with Developmental Disorders August 15, 2019 Instructor: Rachel Loftin, PhD Read the presentation (PDF).

Crisis Support and Autism for Complex Behavioral and Mental Health Needs September 19, 2019 Facilitator: Eric Boelter, PhD, BCBA-D Read the presentation (PDF).

Autism Care Planning: Recommended Interventions, Resources and Support October 17, 2019 Instructor: Karen Sporn, ARNP Read the presentation (PDF).

A Panel Discussion: Perspectives from the Autism Community November 21, 2019 Facilitator: Gary Stobbe, MD Read the presentation (PDF).

2018 lectures

The State of Autism in 2018 January 18, 2018 Instructors: Raphael Bernier, PhD, and Jim Mancini, MS, CCC-SLP

But I Don’t Wanna Go to School!: Strategies for Addressing School Avoidance February 15, 2018 Instructor: Kendra Read, PhD Read the presentation (PDF).

Social Inclusion Through Person-Centered Planning March 15, 2018 Instructors: Ramona Hattendorf, Director of Advocacy, Arc of King County, and Cathy Murahashi, Family Engagement Coordinator, King County Parent and Family Coalition Read the presentation (PDF).

Transition to Adulthood: Housing Options – A Panel Discussion July 19, 2018 Facilitator: Rose Yu, MA, MBA Read the presentation (PDF).

Transition to Adulthood: Behavioral Support for Adults August 16, 2018 Instructor: Monica Meyer Read the presentation (PDF).

Hiding in Plain Sight: Girls With Autism Spectrum Disorder September 20, 2018 Instructors: Sara Webb, PhD, and Karen Barnes, PhD

2017 lectures

The State of Autism in 2017 With Jim and Raphe Instructors: Raphael Bernier, PhD, and Jim Mancini, MS, CCC-SLP

Autism Genetics: What Parents Should Know Instructors: Heather Mefford, MD, and Jennifer Gerdts, PhD

Making Friends on the Playground: Social Skills Support in School Instructor: Jill Locke, PhD

Parent Training to Address Problem Behaviors of Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder Instructor: Karen Bearss, PhD

Autism and Police: Staying Safe Together Facilitator: Robin Tatsuda, MSW

Transition to Adulthood: Finding a Job Instructors: Richard Wilson, MPA, and Maureen Roberts, MEd, CRC

 Transition to Adulthood: Keeping a Job Instructors: Gina Solberg, CESP, and Abbey Lawrence, MEd, BCBA

Early Intervention in Autism: An Overview of the Seattle Children’s Autism Center Model Instructor: Mendy Minjarez, PhD

Autism From a Sibling’s Perspective: A Panel Discussion Facilitator: Tammy Mitchel, sister; manager, Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center

You can view all past Conversations About Autism sessions on the Conversations About Autism Series YouTube Playlist.


For additional resources, visit the Autism Center Resources page or The Autism Blog, authored by Seattle Children's Autism Center. The world of autism spectrum disorders is constantly changing and we at Seattle Children’s Autism Center are eager to share with parents and caregivers what we continue to learn. The Autism Blog is designed to be a resource on autism as well as to give you an opportunity to comment on our posts and engage with our experts.